Famous 21st Century Anthropologists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 21st Century Anthropologists

 1 
Dian Fossey
(Zoologist, Conservationist)

Dian Fossey
6
Birthdate: January 16, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: December 26, 1985
Zoologist, primatologist, and conservationist Dian Fossey conducted research on mountain gorillas in Rwanda from 1966 until she was murdered in 1985. She was part of the Trimates assigned to study apes by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. She wrote Gorillas in the Mist, which was later turned into a film.

 2 
Bruno Latour
(French Philosopher Known for His Innovative and Iconoclastic Work in the Study of Science and Technology in Society)

Bruno Latour
4
Birthdate: June 22, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Beaune, France

Holberg Prize-winning French sociologist and anthropologist Bruno Latour had initially studied theology and even received his PhD in the subject. His later research Ivory Coast drew him to anthropology, and he soon gained fame as a renowned academic in the field, having co-written iconic books such as Laboratory Life.

 3 
Jane Goodall
(Primatologist)

Jane Goodall
6
Birthdate: April 3, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England

Jane Goodall is an English anthropologist and primatologist. Goodall's research proved that chimpanzees could use tools like stalks of grass to fish out termites from termite holes; this also challenged the long-held belief that chimpanzees were vegetarians. Goodall also discovered that chimpanzees are capable of emotions like sorrow and joy. Goodall is also credited with founding the Jane Goodall Institute.

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 4 
Alice Roberts
(Anthropologist)

Alice Roberts
6
Birthdate: May 19, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bristol
Biological anthropologist Alice Roberts has taught at the University of Birmingham and led the charity Humanists UK. She gained fame as the presenter of shows such as Dr. Alice Roberts: Don't Die Young and The Incredible Human Journey. She has also authored books such as The Complete Human Body.

 5 
David Graeber
(Anthropologist, Professor)

David Graeber
6
Birthdate: February 12, 1961
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, United States
Died: September 2, 2020

David Graeber, who was a well-known name in the fields of social and economic anthropology, is best remembered for his bestselling book Bullshit Jobs. A lifelong anti-capitalist, he spoke against bureaucracy and also led the Occupy movement. He died abruptly of necrotic pancreatitis, while vacationing in Venice.

 6 
Kathy Reichs
(Forensic Anthropologist Who Used Her Expertise to Write the Bestselling Crime Novel, 'Break No Bones')

Kathy Reichs
6
Birthdate: July 7, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist, academic, and crime writer. She has been certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and is an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina. She is the author of numerous technical books and has also written many novels. She also produced the TV series Bones, based on her works. 

 7 
Talal Asad
(Anthropologist known for his writing calling for the anthropology of secularism)

Talal Asad
3
Birthdate: July 7, 1948, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Medina, Saudi Arabia

Sociocultural anthropologist and City University of New York professor Talal Asad is best known for his research on nomads, postcolonialism, and the culture of nations such as Sudan. He has also taught at the universities of Khartoum and Hull, and penned books such as On Suicide Bombing.

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 8 
Marshall Sahlins
(Anthropologist, Educationist, University teacher)

Marshall Sahlins
5
Birthdate: December 27, 1930
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago

Born to a Russian immigrant doctor father in Chicago, Marshall Sahlins grew up to be one of the most celebrated cultural anthropologists of the world. The University of Chicago professor is also known for his books such as The Use and Abuse of Biology and Stone Age Economics.

Paul Farmer
4
Birthdate: October 26, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: North Adams, Massachusetts
Died: February 21, 2022

Paul Farmer was a medical anthropologist and physician, who was a co-founder of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization. He was a proponent of liberation theology and wrote extensively on health and human rights. 

 10 
David Harvey
(Professor of Anthropology & Geography)

David Harvey
4
Birthdate: October 31, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Gillingham, Kent, England

David Harvey is a  Marxist economic geographer, podcaster, and a fellow of the British Academy. He is currently a distinguished professor of anthropology and geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He has authored many books and essays and is one of the most cited authors of books in the humanities and social sciences.   

 11 
Richard Leakey
(Paleoanthropologist)

Richard Leakey
3
Birthdate: December 19, 1944
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Nairobi, Kenya
Died: January 2, 2022

Born to anthropologist parents, Richard Leakey initially worked as a safari guide. On an expedition to Ethiopia, he and his men stumbled upon Koobi Fora, a site where they unearthed numerous tools and fossils. The Kenyan paleoanthropologist later lost his legs in a plane crash and now uses artificial limbs.

 12 
Steven Erikson
(Anthropologist, Writer)

Steven Erikson
4
Birthdate: October 7, 1959
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Toronto

Canadian novelist Steven Erikson is best-known for authoring the widely acclaimed ten-volume epic-fantasy series Malazan Book of the Fallen. Other notable works of Erikson include The Kharkanas Trilogy, a prequel to Malazan Book of the Fallen series; the Willful Child Trilogy, a spoof on Star Trek; and The Witness Trilogy, first novel of which is planned for a November-2021 release.

 13 
Paul Ekman
(Psychologist, Anthropologist, Sociologist, Non-fiction writer, University teacher)

Paul Ekman
4
Birthdate: February 15, 1934
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

 14 
Jim Yong Kim
(Physician)

Jim Yong Kim
4
Birthdate: December 8, 1959
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Seoul, South Korea

Jim Yong Kim, or Kim Yong, was born in South Korea and later moved to the US, where he grew up to be the president of the World Bank. The physician and anthropologist has also taught at Harvard Medical School, his alma, and co-owns the medical care company Partners in Health.

 15 
Michael Taussig
(Anthropologist, University teacher)

Michael Taussig
3
Birthdate: April 3, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sydney

With a medical degree from University of Sydney and a PhD in anthropology from London School of Economics, Michael Taussig is famed for his provocative ethnographic studies and unconventional style of teaching. Best known for his commentaries on Karl Marx, especially in relation to the idea of commodity fetishism, he has also produced several well-researched works on medical anthropology. .

 16 
Geert Hofstede
(Psychologist, University teacher, Anthropologist, Economist)

Geert Hofstede
4
Birthdate: October 2, 1928
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Haarlem

 17 
Nancy Scheper-Hughes
(anthropologist)

Nancy Scheper-Hughes
2
Birthdate: September 25, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City

 18 
Gayle Rubin
(Cultural anthropologist best known as an activist and theorist of sex and gender politics)

Gayle Rubin
3
Birthdate: January 1, 1949
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: South Carolina, United States

Gayle Rubin is a cultural anthropologist known for writing on a wide range of topics, such as feminism, sadomasochism, prostitution, homosexuality, pedophilia, and pornography. She studied at the University of Michigan and was part of early feminist groups. After earning her Ph.D. in anthropology, she began her academic career. She is also associated with several feminist journals. 

 19 
Helen Fisher
(Anthropologist)

Helen Fisher
3
Birthdate: May 31, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: United States

Best known for her research on the biological dynamics of love and sex, anthropologist Helen Fisher has also penned iconic self-help books such as Anatomy of Love and Why We Love. She has also worked with match.com, to develop a personality-based compatibility system and has been a TED speaker.

 20 
Donald Johanson
(Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Prehistorian, Paleoanthropologist, University teacher)

Donald Johanson
3
Birthdate: June 28, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago

Donald Johanson is a paleoanthropologist. He collaborated with Yves Coppens and Maurice Taieb to discover the fossil of a female hominin australopithecine in the Afar Triangle region of Hadar, Ethiopia. This fossil was named “Lucy". As an academician, he established the Institute of Human Origins in Berkeley. He is the recipient of several awards and honors. 

 21 
Koenraad Elst
(Columnist, Anthropologist, Journalist, Writer)

Koenraad Elst
3
Birthdate: August 7, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Leuven

 22 
Froyla Tzalam
(3rd Governor-General of Belize)

Froyla Tzalam
1
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: San Antonio, Belize

 23 
Anthony F.C. Wallace
(Anthropologist)

Anthony F.C. Wallace
2
Birthdate: April 15, 1923
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada
Died: October 5, 2015

 24 
Michael Tomasello
(Anthropologist, Psychologist)

Michael Tomasello
3
Birthdate: January 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bartow

 25 
Loïc Wacquant
(Sociologist)

Loïc Wacquant
3
Birthdate: August 26, 1960
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Montpellier, France

Urban sociologist Loïc Wacquant is best known for his work on topics such as the body, ethnography, and racial inequality. A University of California, Berkeley professor, he has also been a MacArthur Prize Fellow and a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows. He also co-founded the journal Ethnography.

Unnur Birna Vilhjálmsdóttir
3
Birthdate: May 25, 1984
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Reykjavík, Iceland

 27 
Scott Atran
(anthropologist, political scientist)

Scott Atran
3
Birthdate: 1952 AD
Birthplace: New York City

 28 
Arturo Escobar
(anthropologist)

Arturo Escobar
3
Birthdate: 1952 AD
Birthplace: Manizales

 29 

Emmanuel de Merode
3
Birthdate: May 5, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Carthage, Tunisia

 30 
Lila Abu-Lughod
(Anthropologist)

Lila Abu-Lughod
0
Birthdate: October 21, 1952
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: United States

 31 
Lewis Binford
(Archaeologist)

Lewis Binford
3
Birthdate: November 21, 1931
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Died: April 11, 2011

 32 
John Comaroff
(Anthropologist, Educator)

John Comaroff
0
Birthdate: January 1, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cape Town, South Africa

 33 
Jack Goody
(Anthropologist, University teacher, Non-fiction writer, Sociologist)

Jack Goody
3
Birthdate: July 27, 1919
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hammersmith
Died: July 16, 2015

Apart from teaching at Cambridge, British social anthropologist Jack Goody also penned books such as Death, Property and the Ancestors. He had also fought in World War II. His work in sociology earned him the knighthood. He was also made a Fellow of The British Academy.

 34 
Louise Leakey
(Paleontologist)

Louise Leakey
3
Birthdate: March 21, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nairobi, Kenya

 35 
Tim Ingold
(Anthropologist)

Tim Ingold
0
Birthdate: November 1, 1948
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kent, England

Timothy Ingold, a British anthropologist, is a Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He discussed his entire career in the book From science to art and back again: The pendulum of an anthropologist. Ingold taught at the University of Helsinki (1973–74) and thereafter at the University of Manchester; he became professor in 1990 and Max Gluckman Professor in 1995.


 

 36 
Sidney Mintz
(Anthropologist, University teacher)

Sidney Mintz
3
Birthdate: November 16, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dover
Died: December 26, 2015

 37 
Meave Leakey
(Paleoanthropologist)

Meave Leakey
2
Birthdate: July 28, 1942
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England

British paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey discovered a new branch of the human species, the Kenyanthropus platyops, or the flat-faced man of Kenya. Initially a zoologist in Nairobi, she studied modern monkeys as part of her doctoral research. She is the first Kenyan to be a National Academy of Sciences member.

 38 
Lee Rogers Berger
(Paleoanthropologist)

Lee Rogers Berger
3
Birthdate: December 22, 1965
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shawnee Mission, Kansas, United States

 39 
Arjun Appadurai
(anthropologist, sociologist)

Arjun Appadurai
3
Birthdate: February 4, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mumbai

Arjun Appadurai is an anthropologist widely regarded as a major theorist in globalization studies.  Born in India, he migrated to USA as a young man. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago and embarked on an academic career. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  

 40 
Eugenie Scott
(Anthropologist, University teacher)

Eugenie Scott
2
Birthdate: October 24, 1945
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: United States of America

 41 
Tim D. White
(Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Prehistorian, Paleoanthropologist, University teacher)

Tim D. White
2
Birthdate: August 24, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles

 42 
Spencer Wells
(Geneticist)

Spencer Wells
3
Birthdate: April 6, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Marietta

Renowned population geneticist Spencer Wells is best known for his study of human diversity. His analysis has led him to believe that all humans have descended from a single man from Africa, the Y-chromosomal Adam, who lived around 60,000-90,000 years back. He has also headed National Geographic’s Genographic Project.

 43 
Philippe Bourgois
(anthropologist)

Philippe Bourgois
2
Birthdate: 1956 AD

 44 
Santiago Genovés
(Anthropologist)

Santiago Genovés
0
Birthdate: December 31, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ourense, Spain
Died: September 5, 2013

 45 
Daniel Miller
(Anthropologist)

Daniel Miller
0
Birthdate: 1954 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Anthropologist Daniel Miller is closely associated with studies of human relationships to things, the consequences of consumption and digital anthropology. His recent book, Stuff, summarises his theoretical work first developed in Material Culture and Mass Consumption. Miller founded digital anthropology programme at University College London. Since the early 2000s, Daniel Miller has been researching effects of new social media on society. 

 46 
Marilyn Strathem
(Anthropologist)

Marilyn Strathem
0
Birthdate: March 6, 1941
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wales
Marilyn Strathern, a British anthropologist, dealt with issues of reproductive technologies in UK. She worked largely with the Mount Hagen people of Papua New Guinea. Over her career, Strathern published over 15 books, 44 journal articles and 57 book chapters. Her doctoral thesis, published as Women in Between, was the first ethnography of that period to focus on Melanesian women.

 47 
Stella Nyanzi
(Human rights activist)

Stella Nyanzi
1
Birthdate: June 16, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Jinja, Uganda

 48 
Arthur Kleinman
(Psychiatrist)

Arthur Kleinman
0
Birthdate: March 1, 1941
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

 49 
Sherry Ortner
(Anthropologist, University teacher)

Sherry Ortner
2
Birthdate: September 19, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Newark

 50 
Fei Xiaotong
(Anthropologist)

Fei Xiaotong
2
Birthdate: November 2, 1910
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wujiang District, Suzhou, China
Died: April 24, 2005